After too many warm beers and strange-smelling lunches, we decided to sit down and take a look at fishing coolers. In our opinion the best fishing cooler is the Coleman 316.
The Coleman 316 is rugged yet lightweight and is fully insulated which we found could keep ice frozen for 5 days! That’s something all of us thought was impossible.
Investing in a decent fishing cooler is important as you can keep your food and beers cold while out camping, then keep your catch fresh all the way home.
These days most modern fishing coolers will function as cold storage on a multi-day back country trip. This was something that was seen as impossible only 5-7 years ago.
|Best ValueColeman 316||Check Today's Price|
|Best for KayakWilderness Systems Kayak Crate with Rod Holders||Check Today's Price|
|Most DurableIgloo Trailmate Wheeled||Check Today's Price|
|Best Temperature ContorlYeti Tundra 45||Check Today's Price|
|Very VersatileSeavilis Portable||Check Today's Price|
Our Top Choices for the Best Fishing Coolers
Dimensions: 31.2 x 15.7 x 17 inches
Weight: 12 pounds
Coleman is a known brand in the sporting and camping world, and they have delivered a solid modern cooler at a great price in the Coleman 316. This lightweight cooler is fully insulated and can keep ice frozen for up to five days in temps reaching 90 degrees.
The 316 might not look feature-packed on the surface, but the simplistic design boasts more than one handy feature. The lid comes with four molded cup holders to keep your drink cold and steady whether you are on land or the water. They can fit cans or tumblers up to 30 ounces. The cooler can also provide a place to sit down for those under 250 pounds.
This fishing cooler has a stain-resistant liner that is easy to clean which is perfect for a cooler that has been full of fish. The built-in ruler is a notable feature for anglers. It may go unnoticed by those not using the cooler for fishing, but having a handy ruler to measure your catch is always a plus.
The 316 is a fishing cooler that can keep your fish fresh, hold you and your drinks, and measure the fish you caught – all for a budget-friendly price that cannot be beat.
Wilderness Systems Kayak Crate with Rod Holders
Dimensions: 13.25 x 12.25 x 18 inches
Weight: 10.9 pounds
The Wilderness Systems Kayak Crate can be used on land or water, but it is specifically designed to fit inside of a kayak. The cooler has a smaller-than-most footprint, and the layout allows for the addition of rod holders attached to the outside of the cooler. This unique feature makes the Kayak Crate the perfect option for the angler looking for a cooler capable of storing both fish and the tools to catch them.
This fishing cooler is not going to keep your fish fresh for long. It is primarily used to keep gear dry while you go out on the water, but can be used to store water and fish for the paddle back to shore. The Kayak Crate is best used when you are planning to clean and cook your fish shortly after arriving back on land.
Igloo Trailmate Wheeled
Dimensions: 36 x 24.4 x 21 inches
Weight: 41.7 pounds
The Igloo Trailmate is one of the toughest marine coolers you will come across. This truly all-terrain cooler has 10 inches of ground clearance, rugged oversized wheels, and is designed to take a beating. The toughness comes with added weight and bulk, but the high-traction wheels and long handle make it easy to pull the cooler through any terrain.
The cooler features a sizable dry storage area separate from where you will keep your ice and fish. You can store your shades, keys, wallet, or whatever else you would like to keep safe while fishing. Other small-but-nice features include a built-in bottle opener, cup holders, and the long handle comes with an attachable tray you can use as a serving table.
The stainless steel and aluminum construction of this cooler makes it clear you are getting a high-quality and rugged product. The Igloo Trailmate also features Ultratherm Technology for superior temperature control.
Yeti Tundra 45
Dimensions: 25.75 x 16.25 x 15.37 inches
Weight: 23 pounds
The Yeti Tundra 45 does not look like much at first glance. Do not judge a cooler by its cover because it is still one of the best fishing coolers out there.
Yeti has been one of the top cooler brands for years and boasts quite the cult following. The reason behind this is fairly simple – Yeti keeps whatever you put in it cold. Ice cold. The extra thick Fatboy walls filled with pressure-injected polyurethane foam insulation provide ultimate temperature control.
The Tundra is tough. Its NeverFail Hinge System and T-Rex Lid Latches are designed to never break and provide a lid that will always close tightly. The Rotomolded shell makes this an armored tank of a cooler. With this Yeti cooler you are guaranteed a high-quality fishing cooler that will keep your fish ice-cold, fresh, and safe from just about anything.
Dimensions: 12.8 x 12.8 x 12.2 inches
Weight: 46 pounds
This is one of those fishing coolers that does not look as great as it is at first glance. The Seavilis Portable is a tank of a cooler on wheels. It features an indestructible rotomolded thermoplastic shell, commercial-grade insulation, heavy-duty 7-inch wheels, and military-grade nylon handles. The cooler also has anti-skid feet to ensure the cooler stays where it is supposed to. It may be able to take a beating, but you do notwant it to have to.
The 70-quart capacity holds enough ice to keep your catch at a cooler temperature for up to 6 days if you needed it to. The T-latch System keeps the lid secure at all times, even if you drop the cooler. A large ruler is molded on the lid, making it easy to measure your catch before putting it on ice.
There’s even a built-in stainless steel bottle opener for you to pop open your favorite drink while enjoying your fishing trip.
Things to Consider Before Choosing Your Cooler
Choosing the best fishing cooler is not a decision to make lightly. A good one can last long enough to be passed down to the next generation, so make sure the one you purchase not only fits your needs today but is constructed with longevity in mind.
Where Are You Fishing
Modern coolers keep fish fresher for longer thanks to improved design and construction, but with that comes added weight than can quickly become a factor depending on where you are fishing. Are you able to park right next to the water? Will you have to lug your cooler a mile? What is the terrain? Are you taking it out on the water in a boat or are doing kayak fishing?
Make sure you get the right size and weight, and remember that a cooler full of fish, ice, and water weights even more than an empty one. If you are looking to take your cooler out on the water, perhaps you want to look into something more tall than wide so it does not take up as much space on your boat.
What your fishing cooler is made of and how it is constructed are just as important as size and weight. You want to ensure you choose a durable cooler that can take a beating. Your cooler is something you will be throwing on and off your vehicle, constantly dragging around, and regularly having to clean when your fishing adventures are over.
Things to pay special attention to when you’re looking for the best fishing coolers include hinge placement and smoothness of the outer shell. Low-profile hinges mean you can fit your fishing cooler into tighter spaces and not have snagged on things. A smooth outer shell is easier to clean blood and guts off of than a textured shell.
There is a price to pay for the latest and greatest fishing cooler technology. You can still buy the one-and-done varieties from the bait shop and call it a day, but if you want one of the best fishing coolers, one that will last years, you may have to budget for it.
You can spend around $100 or upwards of $400 or more for the best fishing cooler that will keep your fish fresh for days. You do not have to get the most expensive cooler, but when you are pricing them, remember key factors such as where you are fishing and how long you will be keeping your fish inside, and ensure what you are getting can do the job you need it to acommplish.
Get Your Cooler and Go Fishing
There are a wide variety of fishing coolers available. At the end of the day, our advice is to make sure you make your purchase based on what’s important to you. Some fishing coolers may have a few more features than others but aren’t as durable. Whereas your tanks might not have a lot of bells and whistles, they’ll be keeping fish just as cold 50 years from now as they do today.
No matter what is most important to you, there is a fishing cooler out there that will fit your need and your budget. So check them out, make your purchase, and get to fishing.